ORLANDO, Fla. — The coaching roster at the Under Armour All-America Game offered as much name value as the players’ list.
Once arriving at the practice fields, it didn’t take long to see Deion Sanders chirping at the TV cameras. Herm Edwards made his presence known with his intense tutoring of defensive backs. Mike Golic, Charlie Ward, Steve Mariucci and Lavar Arrington were a handful of other coaches with legendary backgrounds providing plenty of day-to-day mentoring to football’s next generation this week.
If you scan from the trenches to the outskirts of the sideline, you’ll find another coach. One with far less notoriety, but equal effect on his pupils: Jamie Kohl. That name might not mean much to you.
But to potential college and professional kickers, that is the name to know.
Auburn commit Anders Carlson knows it as well as anyone. And this week in Orlando, he became more familiar with it. Kohl is the coach designated to work with the Under Armour All-America Game specialists — two kickers, two punters and two long-snappers.
In fact, Kohl is responsible for hand-picking the group of six to play in the annual showcase. Carlson was an easy selection. The Auburn commit is grateful for the chance to work daily with Kohl in a personalized environment.
“Yeah, it’s been very valuable. Every hour you can spend with him, you get better,” Carlson said. “Hopefully I got to be a better kicker these five days. That was the plan.”
Carlson isn’t a stranger to Kohl.
Kohl hosts regular kicking camps, which often bring 40 to 50 aspiring kickers to group sessions to enhance their skills. These Kohl’s Kicking, Punting and Snapping camps are nationally-acclaimed. Find a Lou Groza Award winner (or runner-up) and they’ve probably spent a good bit of time working with Kohl.
Carlson — like his older brother Daniel — has been receiving that tutelage for years. Kohl obviously thinks highly of Carlson’s ability since he chose him and one other high school kicker to play in the Under Armour All-America Game.
It’s a testament to Carlson’s work ethic at a young age because — Carlson will be the first to tell you — kicking with Kohl is all business.
“He’s a good coach. He’s very focused. He’s intense,” Carlson said. “I started with his kicking games. I’ve been through them four years. I did a 1-on-1 with him last summer, so I know him pretty well. It’s business when we’re working together.”
Anders Carlson for threeeeeee. (He made it. Kick was better than the camera work.) pic.twitter.com/pYNRHpL4nn
— Benjamin Wolk (@benjaminwolk) December 28, 2016
They’ve been working together since Carlson was his brother’s backup at The Classical Academy (Colo.). The younger Carlson has developed into the nation’s No. 6 kicker. Throughout that transition, Kohl has gravitated toward the talented Auburn commit who went from working at 50-person camps to 1-on-1 sessions with the former Iowa State great.
Carlson has a monster leg for a high school senior. His high school coach sometimes uses Carlson’s field goal attempts as punts because Colorado rules declare field goals that land in the end zone are touchbacks. If you take out his 55-plus-yard attempts, Carlson went 13-of-16 in his senior season. Those numbers helped him break four of his brother’s school records.
Kohl recognized that improvement, and Carlson began to separate from the high-volume kicking camps to more personal sessions. In that short time, Carlson went from high school standout to a potential college star — following admirably in his brother’s footsteps.
“It was a 2-day thing I did. It’s normally camps with 50 kids. But, you know, the better kickers kind of go off with one coach,” Carlson said. “He’s been through it for quite a few years. What they really do is work with NFL players and dissect what’s going down. There’s the basics that everyone knows. He kind of works with that. He kind of puts a spin on it himself. Between the work with the college and NFL players, he learns that every player is different. But he figures it out.”
By now, Anders-to-Daniel comparisons have become tired, and Anders hasn’t even made it to Auburn yet. It’ll be overboard by the time he’s gone, especially if Anders finds similar levels of success as his brother. Through these sessions — and conversations with others in the kicking industry — Anders likely finds himself further along than Daniel was at this point in time.
A week with Kohl will only advance that. But Anders knows these workmanlike moments can help him follow in his brother’s footsteps, assuming he adopts a similar work ethic to Daniel.
“Well, I think, just coming in compared to him, we’re both really good kickers. I think I’ve got a little more experience just technique-wise just because I started a little earlier. But something he’s really good at is just being a hard worker,” Carlson said. “In high school, there’s not much accountability. Once he got to Auburn, he really started figuring that out. He started working hard. You can tell. I hope to do the same when I get to Auburn.”